Home Featured Canadian soldier awarded full benefits for PTSD nearly 20 years after he first sought them

Canadian soldier awarded full benefits for PTSD nearly 20 years after he first sought them

by HR Law Canada

The Veterans Review and Appeal Board of Canada has awarded full entitlement for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who was involved in an accident at sea and an air crash.

This ruling overturns a previous decision by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and recognizes the severe impact of military service on the veteran’s mental health.

The applicant, who served from September 1976 to October 1995, initially applied for disability benefits for PTSD in August 1994. In January 1996, VAC granted a partial entitlement of three-fifths for PTSD, linking it to service-related events but also noting the applicant’s pre-existing nervous problems and various traumatic incidents. The applicant sought a review, contending that a greater entitlement was warranted.

In their analysis, the Panel reviewed evidence, including testimony from the applicant’s spouse and various medical reports. They applied Section 39 of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board Act, which mandates drawing every reasonable inference in the applicant’s favor, accepting credible uncontradicted evidence, and resolving any doubt to benefit the applicant.

“The Federal Court has confirmed, though, that this law does not relieve applicants or appellants of the burden of proving the facts needed in their cases,” the Panel noted, emphasizing the applicant’s responsibility to establish a significant causal connection between their condition and military service.

The Panel found a valid, existing diagnosis of PTSD, a permanent disability, and a clear service relationship. The onset of the applicant’s PTSD was linked to incidents in 1983 (collision at sea) and 1993 (a fatal plane crash).

“With regard to the crash in 1993, the Applicant testified he was the last one to touch the aircraft and that he strapped the pilot in,” the Panel said.

The applicant’s testimony and medical opinions by Dr. Kelly and a psychologist in 2022 played a crucial role in establishing this link.

In their conclusion, the Panel stated, “After considering the factors set out by the Federal Court, the Review Panel finds the medical opinions to be credible for the purpose of establishing entitlement for PTSD.” They added, “However, the Panel can find no basis on which to withhold any entitlement as there is no evidence to support that the Applicant experienced a non-service-related traumatic event.”

As a result, the Panel awarded a full five-fifths pension entitlement for PTSD, effective from Oct. 26, 2020, three years prior to the date of the award.

For more information, see 100004858571 (Re), 2023 CanLII 128192 (CA VRAB).

You may also like

About Us

HR Law Canada is dedicated to covering labour and employment news for lawyers, HR professionals and employers. Published by North Wall Media.